Title Town JCJC: Baseball Bobcats Win First-Ever National Championship

Prior to their first trip back to the NJCAA World Series since 2011, the Bobcats rallied behind the motto "just playing baseball with our friends." Now those same friends, are also national champions.

The following is an official press release courtesy of JCJC Sports Information Director Shawn Wansley.

Baseball Bobcats capture national championship!

ENID, Okla. — Chris Kirtland was named head baseball coach at Jones County Junior College on Dec. 2, 2015.

Six months and two days later, Kirtland led the Bobcats to their first-ever NJCAA Division II World Series championship with a 7-1 victory over GateWay College (Arizona) here Saturday night at David Allen Memorial Ballpark.

“It is an incredible feat because the record speaks for itself,” Kirtland said of the 54-9 Bobcats, which is a single season school record for victories. “The players worked so hard all year and the players were able to win when it counts in the postseason.

“It’s such a significant accomplishment to win that many games in a baseball season. This is the hardest sport there is and winning baseball games is one of the hardest things to do. All of the credit goes to our coaching staff and our players for executing the plan and sticking to the process all year long.”

Gulfport freshman Ben Stiglets was outstanding in the title game.

He pitched a complete game, scattering eight hits, allowing one run and striking out eight as he improved to 10-0. Stiglets only lasted an inning in JCJC’s 11-9 loss to GateWay on May 30.

Kirtland was pleased to see Stiglets and the entire team bounce back to beat GateWay twice in the tournament.

“I am so proud of Ben,” Kirtland said. “He faced these guys when we lost and did not do too well. But he had a chance to rebound, get some redemption and he pitches a complete game. You can’t ask for any more than that.

“It always helps to get slapped in the face so you can see how you are going to respond. These guys responded well.”

After losing the earlier game to the Geckos, JCJC faced elimination in three straight games. But the Bobcats, who did not lose back-to-back games the entire season, responded.

“You don’t really think about that when you are facing elimination,” Kirtland said. “It was really great to see these guys bounce back and win three in a row to win the title.”

The Bobcats took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first when leadoff batter Clint Sasser walked and Tanner Huddleston was hit by a pitch. Erick Hoard, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, then ripped a double to the wall in center to score Sasser and Mason Irby followed with an RBI single.

It stayed that way until the bottom of the fifth when Huddleston annihilated a ball to left-center, a 400-foot shot to make it 3-0. With two outs in the inning, Irby crushed a shot over the rightfield bleachers.

Shelton Wallace then led off the sixth with a home run to left to give the Bobcats a 5-0 lead.

All of those runs came against GateWay lefthander Garrett Poole, who entered the game with 13 wins – the most wins of any pitcher in the nation.

“They had a tricky arm out there who kept us off balance,” Kirtland said of Poole. “We were finally able to get locked in on him and get some home runs that were big. We were able to add some runs late in the game, too.”

The Bobcats made it 6-0 in the seventh when Hoard singled and John Alan Wall was hit by a pitch. After Wallace walked, Hoard was able to score on a wild pitch.

The Geckos got on the board in the eighth when Brady Hettinger led off with a single, took second on a groundout, stole third and scored on Nathan Chokey’s groundout.

JCJC’s final run came in the bottom of the eighth when Sasser led off with a double, was sacrificed to third by Fred Franklin and scored on Huddleston’s triple into the rightfield corner.

Kirtland said the championship contest was JCJC’s best game of the season.

“I think we played our most complete game of the season in the national championship game, which is special,” he said. “We had to sweep a doubleheader to win it and that’s something this team has done a lot this year. They came out from the start, had a plan to execute to win two games and were able to win a national championship.

“We got some really solid pitching throughout the tournament and it helps to score a significant amount of runs and these guys did that. We made the plays when we needed to and these guys were able to experience victory in a national championship and there is nothing sweeter than that.”

JCJC pounded out 15 hits on the evening, led by Huddleston’s home run, triple and single and Hoard’s double and two singles. Irby homered and singled, Sasser doubled and singled and Parker singled twice. Wallace added a home run and Franklin and Wall had singles.

JCJC ended the year with a .352 team batting average, which ranked first in the MACJC and sixth nationally.

“This offense has been great all season and they did not disappoint in the postseason,” Kirtland said. “We hit the ball well this week.”

Poole, 13-2, took the loss for GateWay. He allowed five runs (all earned), 10 hits, walked one and struck out three. Seth Nordlin and Brock Whittlesey also pitched for the Geckos.

Bryce Redaja doubled and singled twice for GateWay, while Ian Evans had two singles. Jeffrey Chandler, Brady Hettinger and Matt Asta added singles.

GateWay ends the year at 43-22.

Kirtland was a member of head coach Christian Ostrander’s staff when the Bobcats made it to the World Series in 2011 and finished second to Western Oklahoma.

He was thrilled to see the Bobcats prevail this time.

“We came here in 2011 and we were disappointed because we came up one game short,” he said. “It was really cool to see the JCJC Bobcats finish on top this time.”

Tournament Awards

All-Tournament Team from JCJC: centerfielder Fred Franklin (West Lauderdale), pitcher Mason Strickland (South Jones), third baseman Tanner Huddleston (George County), catcher Jonathan Parker (Brother Martin in New Orleans) and pitcher Ben Stiglets (Gulfport).

Tournament Most Valuable Player and Marucci Elite Hitter: JCJC’s Erick Hoard (Brandon).

Defensive Player of the Tournament: Fred Franklin.

Coach of the Tournament: Chris Kirtland, JCJC.

Bobcats 11, Pride 4

Logan Robbins pitched JCJC into the sixth inning and Erick Hoard and Dalton Skelton each drove in four runs as the Bobcats eliminated Sinclair (Ohio) 11-4 earlier on Saturday.

JCJC took a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Clint Sasser was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored on Erick Hoard’s fly ball that fell into shallow right for a single.

Sinclair tied it in the bottom of the first when Nick Massey and Tyler Cowles walked and Brody Basilone delivered a two-out, RBI single.

The Bobcats made it 2-1 in the second when Shelton Wallace and Jonathan Parker singled and Skelton’s fielder’s choice scored Wallace.

The Pride tied it at 2-2 when Chad Roberts doubled and scored on Billy Kidd’s single.

Jones took command of the game with a five-run, fifth inning.

Wallace and Parker singled and Skelton’s fielder’s choice scored Wallace. Skelton stole second and Sasser walked. Fred Franklin’s single scored Sasser and Tanner Huddleston was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Hoard then stepped up and fouled off five pitches after having a 1-2 count. He then doubled just inside the first base bag into the rightfield corner to clear the bases and give JCJC a 7-2 lead.

Sinclair pulled within 7-4 in the fifth.

Basilone singled, Daniel O’Keefe walked and Zeth Tanner came through with a two-run single.

Jones took an 8-4 lead in the sixth when Sasser led off with a bunt single, advanced to second on a throwing error, took third on a wild pitch and scored when Huddleston reached on a dropped third strike.

JCJC made it 9-4 in the seventh when Irby singled, stole second, went to third on Wallace’s groundout and scored on Parker’s single.

In the ninth, Hoard and Wall were hit by pitches and Wallace walked to load the bases. Skelton then delivered a two-out, two-run single.

Robbins, 6-0, went 5 2/3 innings and got the win. He gave up four runs (all earned), seven hits, walked four and struck out six. Will Brand pitched the final 3 1/3 innings, allowed 0 runs, two hits, walked one and struck out two.

Parker had three singles, while Hoard doubled and singled and Wallace single twice for JCJC. Sasser, Franklin, Irby and Skelton added singles.

Starter Ricky Krieger went four innings and took the loss. He allowed seven earned runs, seven hits, walked one and struck out three. Alex Anders pitched four innings, allowed two runs (one earned), three hits, walked one and struck out five. Travis Rowland pitched the ninth inning, gave up two earned runs, one hit, walked one and struck out two.

Roberts doubled and singled for the Pride with Basilone and Tanner getting two singles each. Cowles had a double with Kidd and Connor Cleary adding a single.

Sinclair ends the season at 53-12.

NJCAA Division II World Series

Enid, Oklahoma

David Allen Memorial Ballpark

May 28 results

Game 1, GateWay (AZ) 11, North Iowa Area 1 (8 innings)

Game 2, Jones County 13, McHenry County (IL) 6

Game 3, Western Oklahoma 20, Parkland (IL) 2 (5 innings)

Game 4, Mercer County (NJ) 4, Brunswick (NC) 3

May 29 results

Game 5, Sinclair (OH) 9, Monroe (New York) 2

Game 6, McHenry County (IL) 8, North Iowa Area 7

Game 7, Brunswick (NC) 6, Parkland (IL) 3

May 30 results

Game 8, Mercer County (NJ) 8, Western Oklahoma 5

Game 9, Brunswick (NC) 12, McHenry County (IL) 8

Game 10, GateWay (AZ) 11, Jones County 9

May 31 results

Game 11, Western Oklahoma 11, Monroe (NY) 1 (6 innings)

Game 12, Jones County 11, Brunswick (NC) 3 (8 innings)

Game 13, Mercer County (NJ) vs. Sinclair (OH), (suspended by rain)

June 1 result

Game 13, Sinclair (OH) 12, Mercer County (NJ) 8

June 2 results

Game 14, Mercer County (NJ) 5, Western Oklahoma 4

Game 15, GateWay (AZ) 6, Sinclair (OH) 3

June 3 results

Game 16, Sinclair (OH) 11, Mercer County (NJ) 1 (5 innings)

Game 17, Jones County 11, GateWay (AZ) 3 (7 innings)

June 4 results

Game 18, Jones County 11, Sinclair (OH) 4

Game 19, Championship, Jones County 7, GateWay (AZ) 1

NJCAA Division II World Series

Enid, Oklahoma

David Allen Memorial Ballpark

Saturday’s games


Jones County 7, GateWay (Arizona) 1

GateWay (43-22)                 000 000 010 – 1 8 0             

Jones County (54-9)            200 021 11x – 7 15 0

Garrett Poole, Seth Nordlin (6), Brock Whittlesey (7) and Matt Asta. Ben Stiglets and Jonathan Parker. WP-Stiglets (10-0). LP-Poole (13-2). GCC hitters: Bryce Redaja 2B, 2 1B; Ian Evans 2 1B; Jeffrey Chandler 1B; Brady Hettinger 1B; Matt Asta 1B. JCJC hitters: Tanner Huddleston HR, 3B, 1B; Erick Hoard 2B, 2 1B; Mason Irby HR, 1B; Clint Sasser 2B, 1B; Jonathan Parker 2 1B; Shelton Wallace HR; Fred Franklin 1B; John Alan Wall 1B. LOB: GCC-4; JCJC-11. T-2:34.

Jones County 11, Sinclair (Ohio) 4

Jones County (53-9)            110 501 102 – 11 11 3

Sinclair (53-12)                   101 020 000 – 4 9 2

Logan Robbins, Will Brand (6) and Jonathan Parker. Rickey Krieger, Alex Anders (5), Travis Rowland (9) and Zeth Tanner. WP-Robbins (6-0). LP-Krieger. JCJC hitters: Jonathan Parker 3 1B; Erick Hoard 2B, 1B; Shelton Wallace 2 1B; Clint Sasser 1B; Fred Franklin 1B; Mason Irby 1B; Dalton Skelton 1B. SCC hitters: Chad Roberts 2B, 1 B; Brody Basilone 2 1B; Zeth Tanner 2 1B; Tyler Cowles 2B; Billy Kidd 1B; Connor Cleary 1B. LOB: JCJC-9; SCC-14. T-2:23.

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